Treatment of Non-Obstructive Urinary Retention: Top Specialists in NYC

by Alex Shteynshlyuger MD

If you have any questions about urinary problems, retention, and incomplete bladder emptying, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, please contact us or call: 646-663-4151

Non-Obstructive Retention of Urine (Inability to Urinate) in Men and Women

Non-obstructive urinary retention is less common than obstructive urinary retention in both men and women.   Non-obstructive urinary retention means that there is no blockage in the urethra or at the bladder neck that is causing retention.

Non-obstructive urinary retention has fewer treatment options and treatment tends to be less effective. 

While obstructive urinary retention is most common in older men,  non-obstructive urinary retention tends to affect younger patients as well as older patients and affects relatively more women.

Fowler’s syndrome is a type of non-obstructive urinary retention that affects young women (ages 20-30).

We offer effective treatment options for non-obstructive urinary retention.  Treatments such as urinary catheterizationurethral Foley catheters, and suprapubic catheters can help the bladder to empty

How Do I Know if I Have Obstructive or Non-Obstructive Urinary Retention?

The only way to find out if a patient has obstructive or non-obstructive urinary retention is for the patient to undergo testing, typically done by urologists to determine the cause of urinary retention.  Tests such as pelvic/bladder ultrasound, uroflow, urodynamics study, and cystoscopy can help to determine whether you have an obstructive or non-obstructive type of urinary retention.

What Medications are Effective for Non-Obstructive Urinary Retention?

There are no medications that have demonstrated effectiveness in patients with non-obstructive urinary retention.   Trying medications is typically futile.  There are medications that can help some patients with obstructive urinary retention but they are not effective for patients with non-obstructive urinary retention.

What is the Most Effective Treatment for Non-Obstructive Urinary Retention?

Interstim sacral nerve neuromodulation is the only treatment that has been proven to help men and women with non-obstructive urinary retention.   Many men and women who have been in urinary retention for many years and are dependent on catheters can be rendered catheter-free and can experience the freedom of urinating spontaneously on their own volition. 

Interstim is truly a breakthrough treatment for patients with non-obstructive urinary retention.  Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger at New York Urology Specialists is among a small number of urologists in the United States who treats men and women with non-obstructive urinary retention with Interstim therapy.

We are able to help many of our patients to get rid of foley catheters through problem-directed treatment of the underlying problem.

How Effective is Interstim for Treatment of Non-Obstructive Urinary Retention?

Interstim has been used for the treatment of non-obstructive urinary retention for more than 20 years. Scientific studies show that 30-70% of patients may be able to void after Interstim.  Many patients do not require urinary catheterization while others are able to decrease significantly the frequency of self-catheterization.  Another potential benefit decreases in the frequency of UTI that often occur in patients with urinary retention.

Interstim can effectively cure many men and women with non-obstructive urinary retention.

Who is a Candidate for Interstim Treatment of Non-Obstructive Urinary Retention?

  • Patients who are unable to urinate and who do not have any obstructive cause for retention (stricture, BPH, etc)
  • Patients with neurological conditions such as MS (multiple sclerosis), stroke, retention after spinal or pelvic surgery are also good candidates for Interstim treatment.
  • Patients with idiopathic non-obstructive urinary retention – retention without an obvious cause
  • Patients with Fowler’s syndrome (retention in young women)
  • Patients with diabetes and non-obstructive urinary retention.
  • Other patients with non-obstructive urinary retention

Symptoms of Non-Obstructive Idiopathic Urinary Retention

Unable to UrinateSome patients may experience discomfort in the lower abdomen and pelvis. Men sometimes experience pain in the penis when the bladder is full.  

Inability to urinate is the defining symptom of urinary retention.

Treatment Options for Non-Obstructive Urinary Retention In New York

At New York Urology Specialists we offer advanced innovative treatment options for urinary retention in men and women.

At New York Urology Specialists, we treat men and women from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx and Manhattan for problems with urination and retention of urine. Our urinary retention specialists treat many men and women from New Jersey as well as international patients.


If you have any questions, to schedule a consultation or if you need a second opinion, please contact us or call: 646-663-4151

Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a board-certified urologist in NYC who specializes in treating men and women with urinary problems including retention of urine, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, urinary urgency and incontinence.

We see patients from all parts of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island), Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey as well as other parts of the USA. We also see international patients from Canada, Japan, South America, Russia, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and other parts of the world.